Drought looks certain

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Large areas of England are almost certain to experience drought this summer for the second year running, it emerged yesterday. Only extraordinarily heavy rainfall this spring and plenty of wet, cool weather between June and September can stave off widespread shortages.

In the first of a new series of regular water resource reports, the 10 large water companies of England and Wales yesterday said reservoir levels were far below normal for this time of year.

In parts of Seven Trent, North West and Yorkshire Water's regions near the Pennines, reservoirs are one-quarter full or less. By this time of year months of rainfall replenishment should have taken them near the high water mark. The worst hit regions are Yorkshire, with an average reservoir depth of 31 per cent, North West and Severn Trent - for which the percentages are 48 and 58.